Re: Regis Debray (multiple responses)
Fri, 20 Jun 1997 06:09:18 -0400


From: (Bart Meyers)
Subject: Re: Regis Debray

Elizabeth, Debray didn't spend much time locked up. He returned to France
and eventually entered the French government, if I recall correctly, in
the Ministry of Culture headed at that time by Andre Malraux, the famous
French novelist and combat pilot in the Spanish civil war.

Bart Meyers


Subject: bits & pieces

Comments on a few recent posts (my family just took off for 4 days, so I guess
I'm feeling "free")...

>Can someone fill me in with information on Regis Debray, the French
>journalist who followed Che Guevara in Bolivia and was imprisoned there?
>I saw a fascinating movie last night called "The Journal of Che Guevara."
>Debray was mentioned, but the movie neglected to tell what happened to him
>after he was put in prison.

Debray has been a prominent French intellectual since the Sixties
--writing, like Barthes, Eco, & others, in areas like semiology (signs),
communications & media.... He's written "Teachers, Writers, Celebrities,"
"Media Manifestos" & other books. I'd heard his name in connection with a
film (I think) about Che --so guess this must be it; was he listed in credits?
Wonder if we'll ever be lucky enough to see it in the cultural hotbed of the
Lehigh valley, PA?

Re. Karl's response to Paula on divorce --not to wade into the point of
contention between them on divorce (I think there's something to be said for
both the value of divorce, and the sometimes too-easily used "escape" of
divorce; and the significant damage that can be done to kids, especially if
the parents battle over or desert them), but Karl slips in the point about the
link to 60s culture: Not to pick nits, but it is interesting to me how his
interpretation of 60s culture is essentially libertarian (mine would be more
democratic: not the abolition of all authority (entirely compatible with the
market society where "anything goes"), but the question of WHO has the
authority and how is it exercised --in a way that evolves from the
participation of those affected and is empathic). I'd see this as picking up
on an excess that cropped up in the 60s. Karl says:

I also see the increase in breakdowns of primary relationships
(families) as indicative of a breakdown in social norms and in fact
in society itself. In my view, stable families are the cornerstone
of stable societies. How this instability was engendered is
another question, and although it was impacted by the ideology of
the sixties, I don't see sixties' culture as bearing primary
responsibility. <snip -mention of WWII, Korean War & Vietnam -snip>
Still, an accepted ideology that says an individual's personal happiness
transcends family or society is bound to have a negative impact on social

To that last point, absolutely. But what does that have to do with "the
Sixties" or at least with Sixties movements --outside, perhaps, of the most
self-indulgent & apolitical pieces of the counterculture. Isn't this
ideology, in fact, exactly what the market society & consumerism fosters? So,
we need to look at that, not at somehow re-instituting "social norms." I
think human beings have & can feel these norms, but they are too-often swamped
by all the incentives & vices of "everything for sale" to use Bob Kuttner's
phrase. Can't we see the erosion of "social cohesion" all around us, &
increasingly throughout the world (cf. Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld) as the
market comes increasingly to prevail?

I think I lost Karl's comment about cults, etc. But one resource I wanted to
recommend is Stephen Tipton's book "Getting Saved from the Sixties: Moral
Meaning in Conversion and Cultural Change" Alot on the cults that grew up in
& after the counterculture. Yes, i think there's a link to the Human
Potential movement, too; in my own view there is a continuum from an
inward attentiveness to self/wholeness/mental & spiritual health (healthily
connected with the "outer society") to a turn toward a more pathological
expression of inner drives/needs that one isn't yet conscious of --e.g., the
embrace of cult, or a totally inward-turning "self". That's just my own take.

I was intrigued by Masaaki Ohtaki's comments about Wyeth's art and the
possible connection with political conservatism. I can't respond as an art
critic, but I would just toss out that (a) alot of the political
"conservatism" alleged to prevail in the post-60s years has been the
conservatism of elites, either not reflected in mass public opinion (on many
political issues) or finally reflected to some degree in public opinion after
years of massive PR efforts (re. taxes, linked to govt. spending, linked to
"failure" to eradicate poverty....) --so this is a kind of "elite/media-culture
conservatism"; and (b) it would seem to my amateur eyes that Wyeth's
conservative aesthetic has alot to do with family influences (e.g., his father's
art being rather similar in this respect), not necessarily with broader forces
in the culture.

Ted Morgan

Department of Political Science
Maginnes Hall #9
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
phone: (610) 758-3345
fax: (610) 758-6554